HOLLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) - Students from East Aurora and Holland have merged to form one football team, and Friday night, they joined together for their first game.
Holland students are particularly excited because the district has never had a football team.
Dylan Lodowski said, "I'm pumped. I never thought I'd get the chance to do it again."
Many of the Holland students played for the town team, the Holland Raiders. But when they exceeded the team's age limit of 15, many thought they were done playing football.
"We never had the opportunity. We felt kind of boxed in, but now they're giving us the chance to play," Lodowski said.
Holland Principal Carl Guidotto said, "Most of you have said you waited a long time for this opportunity. Well, by God, now you have it, so you go out and you do the best that you can."
Since Holland Central School was centralized in 1933, officials have agreed it wasn't feasible to create their own football program. But now they will bus six varsity and 13 JV players from Holland to East Aurora High School for practice and for games.
"This sport does something for school spirit. And I have found that the kids who excel are usually the kids who are the busiest," said Holland Athletic Director Tim Buckenmeyer. "This is such an opportunity. Something that no other Holland group has ever been able to do."
While the students are on the field, officials want to make sure they minimize the chance of getting a concussion.
This week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an alert reminding school officials about the dangers of concussions for young football players and strategies to reduce the risk.
East Aurora and Holland's athletic directors say they discuss the topic with the players and have staff looking for the signs.
Buckenmeyer explained, "Any sign the student gets up, if they're dizzy, if they have an instant headache, if they're feeling sick, memory issues."
If a students suffers from a brain injury, by law the school is required to keep players out until they have no symptoms for at least 24 hours and have a written doctors approval to play again.
With the success of the football merger, school officials are looking to merge two other teams: wrestling and indoor track.
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